‘Stros Send the RSN Home Early in Game 1…
I wasn’t going to watch Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, but I got sucked into it when the Houston Astros took a one-run lead off on the Boston Red Sox, with everybody’s favorite…Joe Kelly…on the mound, in the top of the sixth inning. It was awesome in the top of the ninth when one-time Red Sock Josh Reddick blasted a solo shot against his former team to make it a two-run game. When Yuli Gurriel parked a three-run homer into the right field stands, the Red Sox fans were exiting Fenway Park in droves and their team had yet to take their final swings in the bottom of the ninth. It was such a beautiful sight!
|Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle (Karen Warren)|
The Astros won the game, 7-2, to ensure they’ll head to Houston with no less than a split pending the outcome of today’s game. They could sweep the games at Fenway Park before jumping on a Texas-bound plane and they do have the good fortune of facing Yankees punching bag David Price later today. Hopefully the Astro bats will enjoy hitting off Price as much as the Yankees do.
|Photo Credit: Boston Globe|
Gerrit Cole draws the Game 2 pitching assignment for Houston. It is easy to look back to last winter and say the Yankees should have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Cole. Ken Davidoff wrote a great piece in The New York Post today regarding the Yankees and Cole. The Yankees were willing to package a deal centered on outfielder Clint Frazier, but the Pittsburgh Pirates wanted the inclusion of Miguel Andujar as a centerpiece too. In retrospect, despite the lost season for Frazier, it’s hard to find fault with the Yankees’ decision to hold onto Andujar even if the Yankees desperately need pitching. Also, there was no guarantee Cole would have pitched as well in New York as he did in Houston. Maybe Andujar eventually gets moved for another frontline starter. Oh well, I am not going to look back and criticize the Yankees for their failure to acquire Cole. The Pirates chose to accept an inferior package from the Astros. It was their decision; not ours. There’s nothing we can do about it. Cole is a good pitcher, but he’s not worth handing over the farm system for. Now if we are talking about Jacob deGrom, that’s a different story.
Many Yankee fans were offended when Alex Rodriguez lost a bet to David “Big Papi” Ortiz and had to wear Red Sox gear on Fox TV, thanks to Boston’s win over the Yankees in the ALDS. Honestly, I could care less. It would have hurt if the player had been one of the core Yankees, but A-Rod’s not in that category. I know he’s done much to rehabilitate his image, but I truly wish the Yankees would have never acquired him. I would have been fine with him wearing a Red Sox uniform for real in 2004. I think A-Rod has done a fine job on the broadcasting side and I know he continues to preach the Yankees are his favorite team, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like him. The fact remains he tarnished the game and he lied to the fans. But aside from that, I’ve lost bets and had to wear Red Sox jerseys or hats before so to me it was no big deal.
|Photo Credit: FS1|
I saw a funny Twitter post yesterday that said Milwaukee Brewers reliever Brandon Woodruff has more postseason homers than Boston’s Mookie Betts. Woodruff hit what would prove to be the eventual difference-maker in Milwaukee’s NLCS Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night off the great Clayton Kershaw. So far in the 2018 post-season, Betts only has 4 hits in 20 at-bats, with no homers and a couple of RBI’s. Betts is a great player but he is not immune to the post-season blues.
Everyone is making their predictions for which pending free agents the Yankees should re-sign or let walk. I hate to say it, but I don’t see the Yankees bringing Brett Gardner back. They’d be foolish to exercise the $12 million option and while declining the option and re-signing him to a lower one-year deal is possible, I am convinced the presence of a healthy Clint Frazier and, ugh!, Jacoby Ellsbury will force the Yankees to move on.
If the Yankees sign free agent Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks (as many expect) and re-sign J.A. Happ, I also do not see the Yankees bringing back CC Sabathia. So, the Yankees could be on the verge of losing their top two veteran leaders. I have no doubt other guys will pick up the void but I am appreciative of the Yankee careers for both Gardner and Sabathia. They’ve worn the Pinstripes proudly and will be missed.
|Photo Credit: MLB.com|
The Yankees face big decisions in the bullpen. With both David Robertson and Zach Britton ready to hit the free market, the Yankees have to decide whether to try and bring both back, just one, or let them both go elsewhere to the highest bidder. I’d love to see both return and I feel that having a super bullpen is so critical. Unless Luis Severino can make major adjustments this winter, the Yankees lack a true ace and signing Corbin does not change that fact. A super bullpen compensates for the deficiencies in the starting rotation. I love D-Rob’s heart, but if I had to make a choice for only one, I’d go with Britton. Unfortunately, I think Britton will get an insane offer from some other bullpen deficient team to be their closer, so it’s probably more likely the Yankees bring back Robertson. I’d really hate to see both leave.
While I think it is possible the Yankees go over the luxury tax threshold next year, the realist in me knows that Managing General Partner will give GM Brian Cashman a defined budget that may not include paying luxury tax penalties. I think some fans are expecting a 2009-like splurge with great young free agent superstars like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but there’s a very good chance the Yankees pass on any extended nearly half a billion dollar contracts. I see many fans predicting both Machado and Harper in the 2019 Yankees lineup and that’s simply not happening.
It’s amazing to think former Yankees third base coach Joe Espada might get a managing job before his former boss, Joe Girardi. Espada, currently bench coach for the Houston Astros, is emerging as one of the favorites for the job in Anaheim which was vacated when long-time Angels manager Mike Scioscia stepped down. Angels GM Billy Eppler knows Espada well from their time together in New York. Espada may be living the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ dream, but his run of consecutive championship series will end if he becomes skipper of the Halos.
I wonder if there are any Yankee fans that are actually pulling for the Red Sox over the Astros? None that I am aware of, but I am sure there are a few fair weather fans out there.
Let’s hurry up and fast-forward through the World Series so that we can get the Hot Stove League started. I am ready for the off-season planning to begin. Nothing better than getting Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and other key executives together in one room to map out strategy for 2019. We can speculate. They can decide. But one thing’s for sure, we are united in our desire for a World Series championship next year.
As always, Go Yankees!
A day after a lop-sided loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees got revenge with a similar 11-1 beating of the Sox. I really wanted an identical 11-0 beating to match the Red Sox winning score on Saturday but Aroldis Chapman lost the shutout in the ninth. Oh well, all is good with the ten-run victory and a woefully quiet Red Sox Nation.
It was disheartening to watch the Yankees fall behind behind by six runs in the first two innings during Saturday’s loss so I am sure the Red Sox fans felt the same way yesterday. I had felt so much more confidence with Luis Severino pitching for the Yankees and perennial Yankees punching bag David Price going for Boston. Six home runs from the home team, including three from the other Aaron (Hicks), certainly did not hurt. On an evening when so many balls were leaving the yard, it was odd that Giancarlo Stanton didn’t join the party. But he had a couple of hits and scored a run so not all was lost.
First, Severino. Sevy has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this year and after this game, he might be the best. He’s 13-2 with 1.98 ERA, both marks are the best in the league. Justin Verlander had been the ERA leader for most of the season but he currently stands at 2.12. If Sevy is not named the starter for this year’s All-Star Game, it will be a travesty by Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch. For this game, Severino shut out the Red Sox for 6 2/3 innings, yielding only two hits and three walks. He struck out six to increase his season total to 138. I might have been a little worried going into the game that Sevy might not have his best stuff coming off his masterful performance against the Philadelphia Phillies last week, but Sevy showed why he is the ace of the staff. I am very happy Luis Severino is a Yankee.
As for the other guys, Aaron Judge got the homer party started early with a one-out homer over the center field wall into Monument Park. After a single by Giancarlo Stanton and a double from Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres continued his magical season with a blast to right to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead. David Price could only look up at the scorecard and think “there goes my ERA”. Gleyber’s smile in the Yankees dugout after the homer was, you could say, priceless.
In the bottom of the second, the speedy Brett Gardner reached on an infield single to second when a bobble and momentum took Brock Holt away from getting the ball to first in time. The eldest Yankees position player didn’t have to stand on first base very long. Aaron Hicks took David Price deep to right for the first of his three home runs on the night.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
The Red Sox had something going in the top of the third inning and could have climbed back into the game. Mookie Betts worked a two-out walk and advanced to third on a single to left center by Andrew Benintendi, the first hit off Severino. It brought J.D. Martinez to the plate and the Red Sox Nation was probably thinking it would soon be a three-run game. Martinez worked the count full and seemed to be in position for a big hit but a swinging strikeout ended the threat. A very nice job by Sevy in that spot. No doubt it would have been a three-run homer if Sonny Gray had been on the mound.
The moment Kyle Higashioka had been waiting for happened in the fourth inning. Higgy had struck out in the second inning to extend his Major League hitless streak to 0-for-22. But leading off the bottom of the fourth, Higgy made his first Major League hit a big one with a home run into the second deck in left field. Congrats, Higgy! I hope it is the first of many.
An out later, Aaron Hicks had his second homer of the night, a shot to center. 8-0 Yankees, but they weren’t done. The Hicks homer ended David Price’s night and Aaron Judge greeted Red Sox reliever and fellow Fresno State alum Justin Haley with a single to left. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a double to left center, advancing Judge to third. Didi Gregorius lofted a fly to left which was deep enough to score Judge with the third run of the inning.
Manager Aaron Boone lifted Severino with two outs in the seventh inning after throwing 99 pitches and brought in David Robertson to record the final out, a fly out by Christian Vasquez.
With such a huge lead, I didn’t really expect to see Robertson, Dellin Betances and later Aroldis Chapman in the game. After D-Rob struck out the first two batters of the eighth inning, Betances came in to get the final out via a groundout to first by Andrew Benintendi.
With Hector Velasquez pitching for the Sox in the bottom of the eighth, Aaron Hicks blasted his third home run of the night with a shot to right from the left-side. The switch-hitting Hicks had recorded the first two homers from the right side. Hicks is only the third Yankee to hit three home runs in a game against Boston, joining Lou Gehrig and Mark Teixeira. Aaron Judge followed with a walk and took second on a single by Brandon Drury, pinch-hitting for Giancarlo Stanton. Neil Walker, who had entered the game at second in the seventh inning with Gleyber Torres sliding to short in place of Didi Gregorius, lifted a ball over the head of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers into left to score Judge.
Dellin Betances got the first out of the ninth inning (strikeout of J.D. Martinez) but Boone made the curious decision at that point to bring in Aroldis Chapman. Sandy Leon, pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland, doubled into the left-field corner. Blake Swihart reached first on an infield single that advanced Leon to third. Rafael Devers hit a grounder to third and while the Yankees forced Swihart at second, Leon ruined the shutout when he scored on the play. Brock Holt hit a grounder to Gleyber Torres who, after looking toward first, tapped second base with his glove ahead of Devers for the final out. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (54-27) put themselves back into a first place tie with the Red Sox (56-29) in the AL East and technically lead by percentage points (.667 to .659). My goal going into this series was to take two of three so I was very satisfied with the results. A sweep would have been great but as Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com often says, Sonny was not grayt. Between Gray and David Price, the two Vanderbilt guys gave up fourteen runs in 5 2/3 innings. Not a great couple of days for former Commodores.
The last Yankee to hit three home runs in a game was a then-39 year old Alex Rodriguez who smacked three against the Minnesota Twins on July 25, 2015. A-Rod’s last homer of the game sailed over the head of Twins center fielder, you guessed it, Aaron Hicks. Hicks also had a homer in that game, a two-run shot off CC Sabathia. But the Yankees prevailed, 8-5.
Poor Aaron Hicks. If Yankees Twitter had their way, Hicksie would have been DFA’d long ago. I have not felt the desire to bash Hicks (I’ll stick with Sonny Gray, Chasen Shreve and Neil Walker). I’d gladly take Hicks over DL-King Jacoby Ellsbury whom, honestly, I hope never wears the Pinstripes again regardless of the cost. If Estevan Florial was knocking at the door or if Clint Frazier was a legitimate option for center, I’d feel differently but for now, I’m fine with Hicks in the outfield even if he hadn’t hit three dingers last night.
The Yankees now host the NL East leading Atlanta Braves (48-34) for a three-game set at Yankee Stadium starting this evening. Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0, 1.93 ERA) gets the start. He’ll face former Detroit Tiger Anibal Sanchez who has pitched well for the Braves this year (3-2, 2.68 ERA) after being released by the Minnesota Twins during training camp.
It’s July which means it will be a big month for new Yankees. The 2018-19 International Signing Period opens today meaning some very talented international youths will soon begin their journeys for Major League dreams with Baseball’s most storied franchise. The non-waiver Trading Deadline is July 31st so the rumor mill, which was already cranked up, will be hitting on all cylinders for the next few weeks. Who will be the next players to pull on the famed Pinstripes? We will find out by month-end. Good times.
Photo Credit: MLB.com
Until the Yankees reclaim the Throne…
Many Yankees fans are quick to anoint the Yankees as the AL East champs, but yesterday, GM Brian Cashman, in interviews, echoed my beliefs. The Boston Red Sox are the AL East Champions until proven otherwise. We may like the 2018 Yankees but until they dethrone the Red Sox, J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox are the hunted. Sure, the Yankees made it further in the post-season in 2017 but it does not matter. The Yankees may have taken the Astros deeper into their series than the Red Sox did against the same opponent but the truth is that the Yankees and Red Sox both lost to the eventual World Series Champions.
Photo Credit: Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Zuma Press (Keith Birmingham)
I would argue that Martinez helps his team’s lineup more than Giancarlo Stanton helps his. I am not saying that Martinez will be a better slugger than Stanton, but it terms of how the player affects his own team, I think Martinez can have the bigger impact. The Red Sox were clearly missing something last year with the retirement of future Hall of Famer David Ortiz. Martinez brings power to his club and he’ll help those around him. The Yankees are destined to hit a lot of home runs with or without Stanton.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Ross D Franklin)
Courtesy of The New York Post, Cashman told reporters on Wednesday, “They are the American League East Champs so we are not on equal footing. We were a wild card. They are the American League East champs and we are not. We are not on equal footing until we take it away from them.”
ESPN writer Marly Rivera reported that David Price (with a big smile on his face) gave the following response when asked about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry with the Stanton/Martinez acquisitions: “You guys want it, let’s do it, we hate the Yankees. You guys want it, yeah we hate the Yankees. We hate them.” Price has a lot of work to do rebuild his image in his own city, but I do expect him to be much better this year than last. It gets lost but the Red Sox have two excellent relievers coming back this year from injury (Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg) which will make their bullpen much stronger in front of elite closer Craig Kimbrel.
There’s no doubt it is time to end Boston’s reign. Let’s do this.
Oh yes, I know the Muffin Man who lives in Drury Lane…
The song I repeatedly sang to my son when he was an infant has been going through my head lately, for some reason.
Photo Credit: Getty Images, via The Athletic
it’s funny but J.D. Martinez signing with the Red Sox may have led to the arrival of Brandon Drury in the Bronx. Cashman told the YES Network’s Michael Kay yesterday that the Yankees have been trying to acquire Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks since back in the days when the late Kevin Towers was the team’s general manager. Cashman didn’t have any success in finding a match with Towers or the subsequent GM, Dave Stewart. He was finally able to get his man when he identified that current Arizona GM Mike Hazen was having trouble matching up with the Tampa Bay Rays in an effort to acquire outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. He stepped in to offer help through a three-way trade, and it resulted in both Hazen and Cashman getting their men. If the D-Backs had been successful in re-signing Martinez, their desire to get Souza would have been diminished and the odds are that Drury would still be working out in Phoenix.
The Yankees website hasn’t been updated with Drury’s new number yet but his Instagram account was sporting Todd Frazier’s number 29 yesterday (identifying the Yankees as his team). Drury wore 27 in Arizona so a number change was inevitable.
Cashman indicated that Drury will play third base which they feel is his best position although many have given strong reasons for why Drury should start at second. He wasn’t handing the third base job to Drury (it must be earned) but I have no doubt that the Opening Day Lineup will feature Drury at third base, barring injury. I do feel that if/when Miguel Andujar proves that he is ready, he’ll have every opportunity to compete with Drury for the job. May the best third baseman win. I like competition. It tends to draw out the best in everyone.
The Arizona Republic, in an article about their new outfielder, cited that you have to give up good players to get good players. They acknowledged that Drury, returning to his natural position at third, could blossom in New York.
Project Gleyber Torres at second base continues in full force. With Drury at third, Torres continues to be the favorite at Starlin Castro’s old position regardless of whether he starts Opening Day or a few weeks later to delay his service time. Many of you may be upset the Yankees most likely will not be starting rookies at both second and third bases, but I feel much better breaking in one rookie at a time for a team with high expectations. I do feel that both Andujar and Torres will be making contributions by late summer (assuming that Andujar does not get shipped elsewhere at the Trading Deadline).
I am anxious to see the first images of Drury at Yankees camp. He is excited to be here and it’s infectious. His all-out style of play is going to make him a fan favorite. A lot of guys know how to play, but not everyone is a winner. I think you can easily put Drury in both categories.
Game 1: Yankees 3, Red Sox 0…
Michael Pineda goes on the DL with a season-ending injury so “who ya gonna call”? Apparently the answer is CC Sabathia. In the first game on Sunday, CC gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…six innings of scoreless two-hit ball. He blamed the five walks on rust, but he was otherwise very effective against the potent Red Sox lineup as the Yankees topped the Red Sox.
Credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Sabathia (8-3) walked the first two batters he faced in the game. A force out at second put runners at the corners with one out. But Sabathia was able to induce former Yankee Chris Young to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Red Sox off the board.
The Yankees were finally able to break through with the game’s first runs in the fourth inning against Sox starter Rick Porcello. Didi Gregorius lined a one-out single to right. Clint Frazier hit an infield grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but Bogaerts bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Frazier to reach first as Gregorius took second. Austin Romine singled to left, just past a diving Bogaerts, to load the bases. Ji-Man Choi hit a sharp fly ball to left fielder Andrew Benintendi, which scored Gregorius. Ronald Torreyes got all of a Porcello pitch with the barrel of his bat for a solid single to left, which brought Clint Frazier around to score in a close play at the plate. Brett Gardner took a pitch off the forearm to re-load the bases, but Chase Headley grounded out to first to end the inning. 2-0, Yankees.
Credit: Michael Dwyer-AP
In the top of the 5th, Didi Gregorius lined a fly ball into the right field stands just fair of the Pesky Pole for a two-out solo home run as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-0.
Aaron Judge finally got his first hit of the series in the 7th when he reached first base on an infield grounder against Red Sox reliever Austin Maddox.
In the bottom of the 7th, Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) replaced CC Sabathia. Like Saturday, the first batter he faced (Brock Holt) singled to start the inning. Despite my Clippard-induced uneasiness, he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.
After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the 8th with two men on base, the Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning after Chad Green two-out walks to Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis. Fortunately, Jackie Bradley, Jr went down swinging as Green preserved the shutout.
Manager Joe Girardi brought in Aroldis Chapman for the 9th, his third consecutive appearance in three days. Unlike Friday night, Chapman did his job, despite a two-out single by Dustin Pedroia, to earn his 9th save of the season.
The Yankees (47-42) moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with the win. Pending the outcome of the second game of the double-header, the Yankees also slid back into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays finally lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3.
Game 2: Red Sox 3, Yankees 0…
In the nightcap, the Red Sox reversed Game 1’s score as they shut out the Yankees. It was the first time this season the Yankees have failed to score.
The Yankees have generally fared well against Red Sox starter David Price but not on this night. Price scattered 7 hits over 8 scoreless innings and struck out 8. He did not walk a batter. Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave the Yanks length (he went 7 2/3 innings) but he was unable to match Price’s performance.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Red Sox broke their 24-inning scoreless streak when Christian Vazquez singled and Mookie Betts clobbered a Tanaka pitch over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park for a 2-0 lead.
Garrett Cooper picked his first Major League hit in the 5th inning when he lined a double to the wall in left. He was left stranded but it was good to see him finally have a productive at-bat.
The Red Sox picked up another run in the bottom of the 6th. Mookie Betts led off with a liner that deflected off Masahiro Tanaka’s glove. On the run, Starlin Castro scooped it up and hurriedly threw a low throw to first baseman Garrett Cooper which Cooper was unable to handle. Betts, without hesitation, advanced to second. An error was charged to Castro. After Betts moved to third on a groundout by Andrew Benintendi, Dustin Pedroia hit a hard single into left field, just past Ronald Torreyes at third. Torreyes misread the velocity of the ball, otherwise, he could have moved into proper position to potentially get the runner at home. The run increased the Sox lead to 3-0.
With Gary Sanchez on base in the eighth, Aaron Judge had a chance to make it a one-run game when he launched a high fly to the Bermuda Triangle in center. But Jackie Bradley, Jr made a leaping catch to snag the ball which would have landed in the Sox bullpen. “I thought it had a chance. But I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong centerfielder. Jackie’s been making plays like that for a long time,” Judge said after the game.
|Credit: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images|
The Yankees had a chance in the 9th against closer Craig Kimbrel. Didi Gregorius, 0-for-5 with 5 K’s lifetime against Kimbrel, ripped stand-up double off the left field wall. With two outs, Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Garrett Cooper, walked. It brought Chase Headley to the plate representing the tying run, but sadly, Headley struck out to end the game.
The Yankees (47-43) fell back into third place with the loss, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays are 1/2 game ahead of the Yanks.
HR Derby Hangover: It was not a great series for Aaron Judge. He was 1-for-18 with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Hopefully the Land of 10,000 Lakes helps him get back on track.
Next Up: Minnesota Twins at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN…
The Yankees will see one of their former starters this series when Bartolo Colon takes the mound on Wednesday for his first appearance as a Minnesota Twin. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will be able to meet up with fellow Home Run Derby participant Miguel Sano. Like the Yankees, the Twins (46-45) started the season strong but have tailed off lately.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.
Yankees: Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA)
Twins: Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.43 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.18 ERA)*
Twins: Bartolo Colon (0-0, 0.00 ERA) — He was 2-8 with 8.14 ERA for the NL Braves.
*Cessa is listed as the scheduled starter, but with Caleb Smith on the active roster, I wonder if Smith makes his MLB debut this game.
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78 ERA)
Twins: Jose Berrios (8-3, 3.70 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Red Sox manager John Farrell said Boston will formally file a protest over the lack of an interference call in Saturday night’s 4-1 victory by the Yankees. In the 11th inning, Matt Holliday, forced out at second on an infield grounder to first base by Jacoby Ellsbury, raced back to first thinking that Ellsbury had been forced before the throw to second. His action prevented Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from catching the relay from Xander Bogaerts and Ellsbury was ruled safe at first. Farrell felt that it should have been a double play on interference. The Yankees didn’t score in the inning so the net effect was inconsequential. I am not really sure what purpose the protest serves. It was clearly not an intentional act by Holliday as he thought that he was still in play.
Upon completion of yesterday’s double-header, RHP Domingo German was optioned to Triple A. Bryan Mitchell, who served as the “26th man” for the double-header, was moved onto the 25-man roster and will start tonight’s game.
Have a great Monday! Hopefully the Yankees will be right on target at Target Field. Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
Yankees 9, Red Sox 1…
Admittedly, I was glad that it was David Price on the mound Thursday and not Chris Sale. For an ace, I’ve never been worried when Price is pitching against the Yankees as they generally seem to come up big against him. Thursday was no exception.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As John Sterling says, “Gary is scary”. A night after Chris Carter almost hit two home runs, Gary accomplished the feat for his second multi-homer game in a week. They had meat in them as both occurred with runners on base (solo homers seem don’t carry the same bang for the buck in a statement of the obvious). Like Wednesday’s game, the Yankees scored first with Brett Gardner’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the 2nd. Then, like Chris Carter the day before, Gary Sanchez got a hold of David Price’s pitch with Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday on base and deposited it over the left-center wall to give the Yankees a nice cushion. Sanchez went deep again in the 5th, with a blast to center off Price, scoring Starlin Castro. Gary was 2-for-4 with 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.
Gary has hit Price well in his brief career. He is 4-for-7 with four home runs. As Gary starts to heat up, it is scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of when it is hitting all cylinders. Even when they are not, it seems like someone is coming up big (unless your name is Chase Headley).
It was also an impressive night for Aaron Judge, even without any homers. He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored, pushing his season batting average to .330. His single in the sixth inning off Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad was the hardest hit ball of the year according to Statcast. With exit velocity of 119.8 mph, Judge pushed two of his own prior efforts to second and third on the Exit Velocity leaderboard.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Brett Gardner took the lead in the Bald Brothers Battle with his 13th home run of the season, a fly to center in the 8th when the game was no longer in doubt. I was really hoping that Matt Holliday would be able to match Gardner two batters later, but he was hit by a pitch, taking the bat out of his hands prematurely.
I have to mention the great running catch by Ronald Torreyes in the 9th. As a defensive substitution for Didi Gregorius after Austin Romine had pinch hit for Didi, Torreyes ran toward the left field foul area after Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp fly. Sliding past the foul line, Torreyes made the catch to record the first out. Plays like this show the 2017 Yankees are a team that likes to have fun. You could see the appreciation from his teammates as Torreyes walked back on field.
Just when you thought Chris Carter was finally starting to hit, he was 0-for-4 as his batting average slipped below .200 again (.195). He was the only starter not to reach base through a hit or a walk. Chase Headley committed his 10th error of the season, matching his season total last year.
Lost among the stellar night by Sanchez was a tremendous start by Michael Pineda (7-3). After the disaster in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Pineda was on top of his game against the Sox. He held Red Sox batters to only four hits over seven innings, and only allowed one unearned run. He walked two and struck out eight in the dominating performance.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The quartet of Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have really been fun to watch with the most recent run through the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka, not so much…
As for the bullpen, I thought Adam Warren and Giovanny Gallegos did good jobs. Warren pitched a clean 8th inning, recording one strikeout. Gallegos came on in the 9th, and easily got the first two batters out. Manager Joe Girardi then made a pitching change to bring Dellin Betances into the game. Betances clearly had rust, having not pitched for about five days. He walked Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez subsequently took 2nd on defensive indifference. Dellin struck out the next batter, Jackie Bradley, Jr, but the ball got away from Gary Sanchez for a wild pitch, and JBJ made it safely to first with Ramirez taking third. Like Ramirez, JBJ then took 2nd on defensive indifference. Josh Rutledge followed with a walk to load the bases. I have to say that I was getting a bit concerned, even with a 9-1 lead. Fortunately, Dellin ended the game with the next batter, Pablo Sandoval, on a called third strike. For what should have been a short one-out stint, Betances ended up throwing 17 pitches. Hopefully, the work proves beneficial for the upcoming Baltimore series.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg|
Coming into the Boston series, the Red Sox could have taken the AL East lead with a sweep. But thanks to two Yankees victories following the opening game loss, New York (34-23) increased its lead to 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Washington Nationals, 6-1, dropping 3 1/2 games back.
I never thought that we’d hold Boston to only one run in two games, but it’s been a very fun couple of nights. I am hoping for a similar result in the upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Odds & Ends…
Greg Bird should be back soon. He is saying that he is as close to 100% as he has been since spring training. On Thursday, he moved up from High-A Tampa to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on rehab assignment. He was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks in SWB’s 3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley. I liked his comments when asked how will he know when he’s ready: “Some magical sign. Lightning will strike my bat”. He was kidding, of course, but if he starts hitting like he did in Spring Training, it’s going to be a very fun summer.
Here are the pitching match-ups for the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins tonight.
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (6-4, 2.93 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67 ERA)
Orioles: Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90 ERA)
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.86 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka, Yikes! (5-6, 6.55 ERA)
Have a great Friday! As always, Go Yankees!
All Quiet on the Eastern Front…
It has been a very quiet end of the year for the Yankees. There were rumors of the Yankees talking with the Chicago White Sox about Jose Quintana and David Robertson but they quickly lost legs. While the Yankees need starting pitching, I agree that it is best not to raid the newly stocked farm system. It is a risk to bet on prospects over an established major leaguer, but while Jose Quintana is a good pitcher, he’s not Chris Sale. Given Chicago’s desire for top prospects in return, it just does not make sense. Quintana will not be a 2017 difference maker.
Credit: Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports
I still believe the Yankees are better served by identifying an undervalued young starter with potential. Sure, that’s every team’s wish but the Yankees have the scouts and resources to uncover the hidden gems. It is harder to pitch in New York than it is in, say, Pittsburgh, but for some guys, the main stage brings out their full potential.
The New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard was once just a prospect included in a trade (when the Mets dealt knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays). I think that trade has worked out very well in favor of the Mets. It also brought them starting catcher Travis D’Arnaud. The 2012 trade was a risk for the Mets given Dickey was the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but he has never been as good as he was in 2011 and the other guys sent to Toronto are after thoughts (Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas).
The Yankees are not going to win the World Series in 2017. The current blueprint puts the Yankees on the path to World Series contention in two to three years. They have the time to develop frontline starters so why not take a chance on some other team’s “Jake Arrieta”. The Chicago Cubs saw something in the former Baltimore Orioles hurler and it has paid off quite handsomely for them.
I have high hopes for the Yankees young pitching prospects. James Kaprielian heads the list, but I haven’t forgotten or given up hope for Ian Clarkin. Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns are other homegrown prospects that come to mind. The first young starters that will be given the chance to crack the rotation next season are the obvious ones…Luis Cessa and Chad Green. There’s also the hope that Luis Severino restores the promise that he showed in 2015 and is not just another failed starter that succeeds in the pen. Trade acquisitions Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, and Albert Abreu also hold promise.
If Severino is successful and just one of the young prospects stands out in the Spring, the rotation that already includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia does not look so bad. It might not be ‘Chris Sale-David Price-Rick Porcello-Eduardo Rodriguez’ worthy, but the foundation is being laid for future success. It will be imperative for the Yankees to re-sign Tanaka should he opt out of his contract following the season, but Sabathia’s departure as he plays out the final year of his contract will continue to create opportunity for the young prospects. Michael Pineda is a case by himself. He is either a really great starter or a disaster. If he can ever hold the focus on the former, the pitching staff will be significantly improved.
Next season, young players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Greg Bird will play prominent roles for the Yankees. If any are not successful, there is another wave of young players waiting for their opportunities at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Trenton. It is inevitable that we’ll see outfielder Clint Frazier at some point in the season, even if it is just a September call-up. I don’t want to lose this talent in the farm system for the chance on a pitcher which always seems to be the biggest risk in baseball. Gleyber Torres has already shown that he has that “it” factor even if he is still a few years away from the Bronx. Stay the course. GM Brian Cashman’s blue print so far has been successful. He has turned what was one of the worst farm systems a few years ago to one of the best. They have the talent and depth in the system to make quiet but effective trades without sacrificing the organization’s best.
2017 may not be a banner year for the team but clearly the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. Now is not the time for the Ghost of Steinbrenner Past to raise its ugly head. Young Hal seems to have a plan and one that will soon yield fruit. Patience. Stick to the plan…
Realistically, there was no way the Yankees could have been players at the trading deadline. Despite the usual rumors tying the Yankees to David Price, Tampa Bay was not going to trade their prized pitcher to New York, only to have him haunt them for years. It was potentially an opportunity for the Rays to strip the Yankees cupboards bare but that would have been foolish on the Yankees’ part.
Ditto for the Boston Red Sox. If there was the slightest possibility the Rays would have considered moving Price to New York, there was none when it came to Boston. There is no circumstance that would allow their pride to part with one of their core players to the hated Yankees. Yes, the Yankees were able to pick up Stephen Drew, but he has not been a vital part of the success of the Red Sox in recent years.
Interestingly enough, Boston’s trade of Lester to the Oakland A’s increases the possibility that he becomes a Yankee next year in my opinion. Oakland will not pony up the necessary dollars and I am not sure that Boston would get any hometown discount (if there ever would have been one to begin with). I am sure that the Los Angeles Dodgers will make a play for Lester and I would not underestimate the Seattle Mariners since Lester is a Northwest native.
If, by chance, Lester does return to Boston in the off-season as a free agent, it would be quite a coup to land Yoenis Cespedes for a two month rental of Lester to the A’s.
Back to the Yankees, there really wasn’t a blockbuster deal in the cards for them. The pitchers they were linked to (most notably John Danks) all have their own question marks and the Yankees would still have had to overpay. So, all things considered, losing C/1B prospect Peter O’Brien (in the deal to acquire Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks) was a small price to pay. The Yankees have no shortage of replacement prospects for O’Brien (he wasn’t going to be a catcher and his departure allowed the Yankees to promote 1B Greg Bird to AA). Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew made sense as Johnson wasn’t really being used by the Yankees, and Stephen Drew gets an audition as a potential 2015 replacement for the retiring Derek Jeter even if he’ll be out of position (2B instead of SS) for the next two months.
Drew’s arrival (a surprise given that it involved an infrequent trade with Boston) spelled the end of the line for former Baltimore Orioles great Brian Roberts. Roberts seemed like a good guy but the Yankees needed more at 2B. Drew, even though he had never played 2B at the major league level, was still an upgrade at a position that has been sorely lacking since the day Robinson Cano signed in Seattle. I wish that Drew had a stronger bat, but his athleticism seems to play well on defense.
Prado is a great all purpose guy but not exactly what I had envisioned for right field. Yet, he’s an improvement over the aging Ichiro Suzuki. I heard the Yankees had tried to acquire Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners before they turned their sights on Prado. Apparently, Seattle’s request for minor league pitcher Bryan Mitchell was a deal breaker. That’s too bad because I’ve long thought that Ackley would fit well with the Yankees. Personally, I would have given up Mitchell to get Ackley.
The Yankees did need help on offense and even if they weren’t flashy moves, the additions of Drew and Prado were upgrades. But I had really hoped the Yankees would have been able to secure an additional arm for the rotation which didn’t happen. But I never wanted to see a deal that involved losing top prospects so perhaps it was best that nothing happened. Clearly, the Yankees are not going to win a World Series this year unless they get ridiculously lucky in the next couple of months. As it stands, they’d be easily dismissed by either Oakland or Detroit.
It’s possible the Yankees made a waiver deal or two this month, but I seriously doubt there will be any major additions. Win or lose, this is the 2014 Yankees.
It is early in Chase Headley’s Yankee career, however, I really like what I’ve seen so far. Granted, he doesn’t bring a monster bat, but his defensive plays have been something that has been missing from Yankee Stadium for many years. There’s no doubt I prefer Headley over Alex Rodriguez and I hope the Yankees decide to bring Headley back next year.
Considering that Yangervis Solarte has been hitting with consistency since he arrived in San Diego, the Headley trade is one of those that seems to have worked out well for both teams involved.
With the acquisitions of Drew and Prado, it was interesting how it reunited former teammates. For Drew, it was a reunion with former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and lefty specialist Matt Thornton. He was traded for a close friend, Kelly Johnson, a former teammate when they were both in Arizona. Ironically, I read that Drew and Johnson were together in Drew’s home when news of the trade broke. I am sure that probably hasn’t happened too often.
For Prado, he was teammates in Atlanta with catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Even Carlos Beltran was able to catch up with old friends, even though they are playing in the opposing dugout with former Cardinals teammates Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. It wasn’t that long ago Beltran, Craig and Kelly were playing in the World Series, along with now Boston reliever Edward Mujica, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Assimilating with a new team…
When Wednesday’s games were over, I am sure that Stephen Drew’s mind was on the upcoming series against the Yankees. So, when Thursday’s trade put him in the opposite dugout, I wonder how long it takes to drop the loyalty to the former team. Not that I would think Drew would do anything to hurt the Yankees’ chances to beat the Red Sox but I wonder if there is a part of you that quietly roots for your former teammates. When you are used to cheering the home team at Fenway, does that feeling automatically leave because you are suddenly wearing a different uniform? For Drew, when he played second base for the Yankees on Friday night, he had much deeper and more meaningful relationships with the Red Sox than he did with his own teammates. He’ll develop those friendships on the team in time, but it just seems to me that it would be very difficult to change loyalties at the drop of a hat.
I watched a little of Jon Lester’s debut with the Oakland A’s on Saturday. Admittedly, Lester looked a little strange in Oakland’s uniform. Jeff Samardzija looked more at ease than Lester did during their respective debuts, but it didn’t show up in Lester’s performance as he beat the Kansas City Royals while the Red Sox were losing to the Yankees.
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David Price’s debut as a Detroit Tiger takes place this week against the Yankees. As if they didn’t see Price enough while he was with the Rays. Oh well, to be the best, you have to beat the best or so they say…